It happens on a daily basis; an individual is driving when all of a sudden, they see flashing lights in their rear-view mirror. Their heart pounds. Their palms sweat. And before they know it, their car is being searched and they are being accused of a crime, such as a drug possession. The evidence found in the car can be devastating and can lead to a criminal conviction. The penalties can have severe ramifications on your freedom and your future.
But you might be able to escape the firm grip of the law by suppressing the evidence being held against you. In far too many cases, law enforcement officers conduct warrantless searches and seizures. In order to protect your Constitutional rights, officers are required to have probable cause to justify a warrantless search, otherwise collected evidence is considered tainted and unusable in a case against you.
So what does it mean to have probable cause? In broad terms, it means that a reasonable person would believe that evidence would be moved or destroyed before a warrant could be obtained. This means that an officer must also believe that a crime is occurring or is about to occur. It requires facts, not mere suspicion.
So, if an officer pulls over a vehicle and then searches it without consent and without probable cause justification, then that driver’s rights have been violated and the evidence subsequently gathered likely can be suppressed.
It’s worth noting here that there are exceptions to the probable cause requirement. Consent and incriminating evidence in plain sight are just a few.
What does this mean for you? It means that you need to know your rights and how to act on them. Never consent to a search. Know that you might have very powerful criminal defense options at your disposal. An experienced attorney may be able to help you craft a legal strategy that positions you well to successfully fight back against aggressive prosecutors.